Bob Crow, wearing a suit with loosened tie, behind a lectern
Photo: Jarle Vines, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s exactly ten years to the day - as I write - since Bob Crow died at the very young age of 52.

Non-UK readers may not have heard of him - the short of it is that Bob Crow was the General Secretary of the RMT trade union representing railway workers.

For more detail, Wikipedia has a fairly good article, but there’s something it doesn’t quite capture.

Left-wing politics in the UK has for some time lacked anything remotely resembling an articulate, charismatic, successful figure. Corbyn was none of those things. Starmer doesn’t even count.

But Bob Crow was exactly that. Everyone knew who he was and what he stood for. Everyone knew that the RMT union under his leadership would never roll over and accept cuts to wages, to staff, to working conditions, or to health and safety.

That’s a big deal in a country where the right-wing press likes - still - to crow that the power of the unions was destroyed forever by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. This is a lie.

It was reduced, certainly, but not destroyed. As long as he lived - and beyond - Bob Crow was a continual reminder of the continued truth of Billy Bragg’s words: There Is Power In A Union.

When he died, I wanted to write a song about him in tribute. So I did:

I re-used the melody of an older song about a different union leader from a different place and time - Joe Hill - because that’s how folk music works.

Sometimes I think I may never write a better song.

See what you think.